The Words of the Stephens Family
At an East Garden celebration several years ago, Hyung Jin Nim holds onto big brother Heung Jin Nim's hand.
Repentance has been greatly misunderstood in our church and throughout history. Just as the purpose of life is joy, the purpose of repentance is joy -- joy and freedom.
If you are already feeling freedom and joy in your spirit, then you don't need repentance for yourself. Of course, you can always then repent for others.
Why is it so hard to repent? Because you can't think of what to repent for, isn't it true? Spiritually, you cannot see clearly; you are blind to your own sin. When someone is involved in sin, he is involved in a give-and-take relationship with that sin. The Principle teaches that any give and take produces a kind of energy, or feeling, and a certain result, or "new creation." Because some result comes from sin, you are probably comfortable, and you feel that nothing is wrong. Everything feels normal. To use an analogy: As long as you are inhaling and exhaling, your body does not detect that anything is wrong. But you may be very gradually inhaling a poisonous gas and not realize it until it is too late.
All give and take inherently has a direction. It is possible over a period of time to make subtle changes in the direction of your give and take that go unnoticed. Gradually you are turned away from God without realizing it. Physically, it is like eating sugar for a long time; your body slowly becomes more and more unhealthy. It's like the old story of the frog and the boiling water. If you put a frog in a pan of boiling water, he will jump right out. But if you put him in a pan of cold water and very slowly heat it up, he won't notice the change, and you can cook him.
Both sin and bad habits create feelings and results that can be very "satisfying." Otherwise, why would people continue them and thereby slowly commit spiritual or physical suicide? Look at the people who smoke cigarettes.
In order to repent for a sin, you must first recognize that you have committed a sin. This can happen in one of several ways. Each of these ways we could call "judgment." But the word "judgment" has taken on such a fearful connotation that most people will immediately put up their spiritual barriers against any form of "judgment;' especially if it is coming from God, True Parents, or Abel. Actually, judgment is a form of love. Think how a parent feels about his child when he sees the child doing something wrong. He wants to help the child, so first he has to correct him with words of truth. As the child gets older, he is more able to learn on his own by example and by self-realization.
So let's use the words "recognition" and "advice" instead of "judgment;' because these words have a better connotation.
"Recognition" (that is, "judgment") of sin comes when you see another person behaving in a more loving way than you are. You spiritually feel love coming from him, or you "recognize" that he is loving others more than you do. These levels of recognition reveal to you that you have to grow more, that you have to change your own heart.
One thing about recognition, however, is that you can only recognize love at a slightly higher level than your own. Many people cannot even begin to recognize Father's love or understand his motivation because it is simply too far above the horizon of their own level of love. The reason we can only perceive love at a slightly higher level than our own is found in the principle of growth. Growth takes place step by step, and only through give and take centered on heart. As much as you may want a self-centered person to understand your unselfish motivation, it is impossible. Little children cannot understand sharing. "I want it" is their level of maturity.
Many leaders get frustrated at members who cannot understand their heart. But some members may simply not be capable of it yet. Both members and leaders often fail to grasp each other's level. You wouldn't try to teach calculus to a two-year-old. The spiritual laws of growth of the heart are just as absolute and real as the laws of growth of the intellect.
So the first and best way to be able to repent is to constantly be around people with a deeper heart than yours and who do more loving actions than you do. But associating with people of a substantially higher level is not as productive as being with those just ahead of you in development or with someone who is so far ahead of you that he can understand exactly where you are and help raise you up. By having give and take with such people, you will constantly be "recognizing" where you need to change. This is constant self-judgment. This is a loving judgment and an easy way to grow quickly.
The next kind of judgment we can call "advice." In other words, this is the truth. Truth can be found in the Principle, in Father's words, and in many other written forms. Truth can also come in the form of spoken words -- hence the term "advice' Advice can come when you are ready and seeking it; it can also come when you are not ready and don't want to hear it. Advice can come from a person who really loves you; this makes it easier to receive. Ad- vice can also come from a person who seems hostile to you, and this makes it very difficult to receive. In fact, however, God just might be using that hostile person to get across some "heavenly advice:'
It is always your portion of responsibility to decide which advice comes from heaven and which does not. Sometimes the advice you receive from someone who loves you is too humanistic and too accommodating to your fallen nature. Prayer is your best avenue for discerning the truth you need to hear based on your level of growth and heart.
When you pray, you can always repent even for something you didn't do. Then it's almost guaranteed that Satan cannot claim that prayer. This repentance can be applied to your ancestors or to other spirits like yourself who did commit such sins. If the thought comes into your mind that you committed a sin, even if you didn't, you can repent as if you actually did. There must have been some base for you to receive that thought -- perhaps from some ancestor or some spirit working with you. Maybe the only base you had to receive an evil thought was that you were walking down a certain street where some spirit who needs liberation is trapped. You can help him or her by repenting. Through your repentance, that spirit can gain freedom and joy.
To be effective, repentance needs some specific object, such as a positive action or thought. Merely saying, "I'm sorry I'm such a sinner;" is not effective. The words "I'm sorry I have such a small heart" or "I'm sorry I hurt you" or "I repent for my sins" are all practically worthless when measured in terms of the two purposes of repentance -- joy and freedom. By repeating these statements in prayer, you are, in fact, emphasizing Satan's accusation and condemnation. How are they helping you feel closer to God's love? Can you feel any joy from repeating these sentences over and over again?
If a child does something wrong, what does the parent want? He wants the child first to clearly understand what he did wrong and secondly, to sincerely apologize and thus change. That's all. Finished! Done and forgotten! Gone! Your parents don't want to remember all the times you wet your pants and then keep reminding you about it over and over again. Sin should be swept away and then forgotten. That is the objective of repentance.
One of the great fears some members have concerning repentance is the "incredible" amount of indemnity they will have to pay once they repent for their sins. This thinking is really Satan's trap. Actually, it is just the opposite -- think of all the more indemnity you'll have to pay if you don't repent and just keep on sinning.
This is because of Satan's own belief system about punishment. Satan doesn't have even a fundamental comprehension of parental love. His understanding originally was only that of a master and servant: If the servant does something wrong, the master punishes him, and the greater the wrong, the greater the punishment. But God's heart toward His children is not like that at all.
Once a person sincerely repents, God's heart is instantly and automatically moved to embrace him. Think of how your own heart responds when someone sincerely asks your forgiveness. Try to keep in mind the parable of the prodigal son. God is not counting up your sins.
Your responsibility is, in one sense, never going to get any greater than it already is. Every person has to grow to perfection -- it's just a matter of who gets there first. The first one who gets there takes responsibility for the whole restoration. He is the Messiah. The next one there just helps him. At every level it is an entirely voluntary effort, always depending on your level of heart. Those of you who know me know that I never ask you to do anything you are not willing to do. It's the same with God.
Once you have repented, then you can experience God's love. That is the whole purpose of life. You can have give and take with God again, and He can gently guide you to grow step by step. No matter where you are coming from, a relationship of give and take with God is worth everything. Even a newborn baby can experience the love of his parents. No matter how big a sinner you are, you can still experience God directly. Look at all the prisoners and winos that were saved by Jesus with one experience. Their sins were much bigger than yours.
God's love is always a forgiving love. The hell a person experiences after repentance is the memory he himself has of his sins and the pain he has caused others. God will forget your sins, just as parents forget the sins of their children. But you will remember your mistakes and the pain and suffering you caused, others. This is the only hell there is. The "lake of fire" just means that you'll drown in the truth. For some, it will seem eternal, but it won't be. All will be forgotten in the love of God.
The ways you've hurt God and True Parents in the past cannot be changed. They understand your mistakes even better than you do. But even more, they understand you and your motivation and your ancestors and their motivation. You all must eventually come to forgive yourselves as God as done. Everyone must come to have God's viewpoint. His perspective is the only real and true point of view.
How much does Heavenly Father love you? How much do True Father and True Mother love you? You cannot even begin to understand. Your mind cannot grasp the higher levels of love. You have been under Satan's dominion since the fall of Adam and Eve. Not only have you followed after Satan's type of love, but your mind has not even been able to conceive of a higher love, one beyond the angelic love. Lucifer never understood true parent/child love. He only understood God's love for a servant.
True parental love is always concerned not only for the well-being of the child but also for his or her perfection and eternal position in heaven.
After my death and Father's going to Dan- bury, the total amount of indemnity paid by all of us in the Unification movement was phenomenal. It was even greater than at the time of Jesus' crucifixion 2,000 years ago. Enough conditions were laid for the resurrection of all the Christians and spirit men in Paradise with Jesus. In other words, another Pentecost could take place. Father spoke about all these things.
But in fact, our members did not experience great spiritual assistance; it was just the opposite. The last three years have been perhaps the most difficult of all for many of our members. Satan really attacked our movement. The love in our church seemed to dry up. It was like a desert. Many members couldn't feel anything for anyone else. Many of you even stopped praying. We were all in solitary confinement. Many, many blessed couples were alienated from each other or struggled with each other.
Why? Here is the answer! Because of God's love and True Parents' love for you, you have suffered for these three years. Does that make any sense at all? Can your rational mind figure it out? Let me try to explain. The indemnity conditions were paid in order to bring the Pentecost and allow every one of you to receive the assistance of millions of spirits to help you in your mission. Once that happens, miracles will begin to take place. Things you pray for will start to happen overnight. Everything will become easy compared to before. But because everything will be so easy, you will no longer be able to experience the suffering heart of Cod these 6,000 years. You will no longer be able to experience the suffering heart of Jesus daring his life on earth and for the last 2,000 years. You will no longer be able to experience the suffering heart of our Parents. You won't have to work for years and years and still get no result. You won't experience betrayal after investing all your heart into someone. Inspiration will come easily. Cain/Abel relationships will stop being so difficult and start being more ideal. The holy spiritual world can be with you all the time if simple and correct conditions are made. The Kingdom of Heaven will come to you very rapidly and then spread out to every- one until it covers the whole earth.
But what about you? True Parents love you. They want to be close in heart to you for all eternity. The content of your heart is the key. What position will you take in the spirit world? Can you be proud of how much you helped Father while he was on the earth? Will you feel you failed him and thus contributed to the death of Heung Jin Nim? Think about how Jesus' disciples must have felt for the last 2,000 years in the spirit world, knowing they failed him. Would that be your feeling? How close would you be able to approach Heavenly Father and True Parents if you had that feeling?
Heavenly Father and True Parents want you to be the closest of all to them eternally. But in heart, you won't be able to compare to the generations that will come later. Think about your own blessed children. Aren't they going to be much deeper in heart than you are? Then what about your grandchildren? Isn't each generation going to go deeper and deeper within the love of God? With that level as a standard, you could not actually be the closest to God and True Parents.
But you will have a special relationship to the suffering heart of God. In the future, the suffering heart of God will be wiped away. Your greatness in history -- your badge of honor -- meriting a position next to God and True Parents, will be that you suffered with them through this restoration. Thus you will have a special place in their hearts. You will have a unique relationship with them forever.
This is the position Father wants you to inherit. But would you in your heart be able to take that position, knowing that I had to die to bring the victory and knowing that if you had been more successful I would not have had to die? Think about Jesus' disciples. He loves them the most. He wants them to be the closest to him in the spirit world. But they failed him. They can't hold their heads up before him. They feel uncomfortable being around him. It would be the same for you.
Knowing all this, Father asked God to hold off the Pentecost for three more years. Our members who could endure three more years of loneliness, three more years of no result, three more years of Satan's attack, and still hold on to Father would then have that special eternal connection of heart. Your understanding of Heavenly Father's heart, Jesus' heart, and True Parents' hearts will be greater and deeper than anyone else's. That secures your position in the spirit world. You successfully went through your own Danbury course. We stand together as victors. You are now prepared to inherit the incredible victory that will come with the assistance of the spirit world.
Please share this with your brothers and sisters. They need to know why they have suffered so much for the last three years.